Get Your Music Heard on College Radio

            Last April, College Broadcasters organized a moment of silence in which over one-hundred colleges simultaneously shut-down their broadcast for a moment. The purpose of the silence was to bring awareness to the lack of university radio funding and the need to adapt to an ever-changing music discovery environment. Stations such as NYU’s WNYU have added their broadcasts to be online as well as on FM stations to expand their relevance. Despite the changing environment in the music industry, college radio remains an excellent promotion channel for the indie universe. The Music Director from WNYU explains that, “We’ve been credited with proliferating numerous bands into nationwide popularity, and with good reason: alternative radio has been, and continues to be, a crucial launching pad for independent artists. The service is inexpensive, if not free, and can serve as vital promotion for a new artist—the trick is getting the MD on your side.”

            Here are four crucial tips for getting your band’s music heard on college radio.

Physical Versions Are Better

I know we all thought digital killed the CD star, but the fact is that most DJ’s prefer to have physical copies in front of them to listen to the music directly. Also, the added benefit of submitting physical demos or albums is that it will enable that radio station to archive your band and your music so that future generations of the station will continue to play and promote your  music.

Know the Station

If your music fits into a particular genre the best thing to do is submit it into a specific program on the station. If you are familiar with the particular DJ from that program, submit to them directly. This is one of the most basic ideas of any communication; know your audience. Knowing your audience can get your music to relevant decision makers and DJ’s more quickly and give them more confidence that you understand the alternative radio submission process.

If You Don’t Have a Distributor Seek One Out

These promoters do more than assist in checking on the status of your submission, whose playing it, and its number of plays. An independent distributor will likely already have an in with the elusive music director you are trying to contact. This independent distributors prior relationship can increase your likelihood and frequency of plays of your song.

Be Persistant Without Being Annoying  

My final tidbit of advice is to be persistent with trying to get your music on without driving the music director crazy. This was general advice given to me by Bruno Del Granado (Ricky Martin’s manager) a few years back with anything in the music business; and it holds true for college radio as well. You need to understand that the university music directors are intensely busy and have lives of their own. Don’t send a million emails and 100 phone calls in two days, you may not get a response that quick, and you may end up irritating that director to the point that he wouldn’t play your music if you were the next Jimi Hendrix. You need to be persistent with your goal, and be patient with the response. I am currently trying to get rotation on WVUM for the band I am managing. So, I know from personal experience how difficult it can be to track down the music director and get them to respond to your emails. Remember, persistent yet patient. It’s a balance between sending enough contact to make sure your band doesn’t fall through the cracks of the MD’s busy day, and being patient enough to let them consider your music for airtime.

Using these steps can greatly increase the likelihood of your band getting airtime on college radio. Can’t wait to hear yall on the airwaves!

Advertisements

Building Your Home Recording Studio

            One of the best recent developments for independent artists is the improved ease, quality, and affordability of home recordings. No matter the amount you have to invest into your recording studio there are certain basics that you need to think about and components of the studio that are needed.

Audio Interface  How you get the sound into your computer is the first thing to think for your studio. You need to understand how many inputs you have and the quality of your audio-to-digital converter. Also, if you want to go super simple on audio interface there are now products like Blue Microphone’s Icicle USB Converter, which enables you to directly plug an XLR microphone into your computer through the USB port.

Listening   To record and master the music in your studio you to be able to hear an accurate representation of the sound. Now of course you don’t have $15,000 to spend on earth shattering monitors like professional studios but understanding basic sound dynamics and equipment can go a long way in getting that sound right.

Quality Recording  This entails high quality microphones and music production platform. There is a whole  gang of music recording platforms; the most widely used are ProTools, Cubase, Logic, and Cakewalk. My advice is to look into all of them a little bit and see which you produce. But, they all are used to record and produce music.

In a recent article in Billboard Magazine they did the math on what you need to get if you’re building a home studio with between $1000 and $5000. These are the packages they suggested for a quality home recording.

The $1000 Studio  

The recommended audio interface is the Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 which costs $249.99. Get at least two microphones and keep in mind that interfaces that cost less than $250 rarely have more than one input.

Great studio monitors include M-Audio BX5A and KRK RP5G2, which both cost about $300.

For condenser mics get either the Blue Spark (which costs $199.99) or Sterling AudioST55 (also $199.99).

For dynamic microphones, the Sennheiser E609 is a great one for about $100. This mic can be used for a variety of instruments and even vocals.

Shure SRH440 are great headphones if you don’t have the liberty to blare your speakers 24/7 in your parents basements. But headphones are also valuable so that all the band members can hear how the levels of music sound in the recording mix.

The $5000 Studio

Now obviously this is a bit heftier of an investment but if you have the cabbage you will be able to build a home recording studio with incredible quality.

Audio Interface-Apogee Ensemble,  $1,995

Studio Monitors-Adam A7X, $1,399.99

Condenser Microphone-Neumann TLM102, $699.99

Dynamic Microphone-Shure E609, $99.99

Headphones-Shure SRH840, $199.99

The final note I would add in getting your equipment and setting up the studio is that you can never underestimate the power of getting a music engineer to help out with the process. When one of roommates set up our home studio he had a buddy of ours who was a music engineer help with the whole process. Now if you can’t find an actual music engineer get someone to help who has a good sense of sound dynamics. The thing most people do not realize is that getting a quality sound is as much a science as it is an art. Happy recordings music fam.

Four Fundamentals of Taking your Guitar on The Road

Four Fundamentals of Taking your Guitar on The Road

            Just like any instrument a band uses, it is critical to care of the guitars. For independent artists, it is particularly important to have personal guitar know-how because until you make it big you will likely not have the budget for a guitar tech.

To Thine Own Guitar Be True

As independent artists, if something goes wrong with your guitar on the road then it can be very difficult to scrounge up the time or money to get it properly fixed by a professional. For this reason, it is critical that you understand your guitar well and understand how it works. This will enable you do most fixes yourself.

Earnie Bailey, former guitar tech for the Foo Fighters and Nirvana recently gave the advice in an interview to, “Go out and get a cheap guitar and dismantle it, go at it with a chisel, just get a really good idea of how it’s constructed. Once you have that in the back of your mind, you’ll have a better understanding of what you’re dealing with when problems pop up.” This is the old tried and true method of breaking it down to see how it works. Taking out the frets, digging into the electronics, and learning how all the parts come together can take a broken guitar into the “simple fix” department. Also there’s a wealth of knowledge in books and on the internet on the topic of guitar maintenance and repairs.

The other advice given by Bailey is that it helps to have, “. . .conversations with other people about repairs. It’s nice to know what they’re talking about when they describe ‘the inside lining of a trust rod cavity,’ you know.” Being knowledgeable about your guitar and having conversation with others about guitars is critical to keep your guitar in tip top shape.

Frankenstein’s Guitar

            Once you have this understanding of how all the components work in your guitar you can play mad scientist and fix your guitar by turning it into a Frankenstein Guitar. I like to think of the Frankenstein guitar as the various guitar parts that you put together to fix a guitar.

            Bailey went on to say, “If some repairs are really expensive, like if half the guitar is unusable, you save the other half and mix and match parts until you have a complete guitar again. . .  It looked like Kurt had a lot of guitars, but a good number of them were just the same ones recycled over and over from different components—just the same ones rebuilt and reconstituted.” Being able to resurrect your guitar can extend the life of a guitar and reduce the cost of repairs.

Its Electric, Boogie-oogie-oogie

            Having electrical issues with your equipment in the middle of the show can give the most seasoned musician heart palpitations. However, taking special care of your instrument and keeping in mind that it is an electrical piece of hardware can prevent these problems. Bailey commented that, “Whenever you get a band that sweats a lot, those electronics are prone to a short lifespan.” Also, electric hardware in general is not designed for the wear and tear of a crazy rock show. Being conscious of the moisture and the strain you put on cords and inputs can help to extend the life of your instrument.

Doing the Tuning

The best fixes can all be undone by forgetting to properly tune your guitar during sound checks. Bailey explains that, “Tuning issues are critical . . . There’s an art to winding strings, putting them on, stretching strings, and intonating a guitar to eliminate problems.” Tuning the guitar before and during every performance is crucial to maintain that optimal sound.

Following these fundamentals can help to maintain the quality of your guitar on the road. However, keep this disclaimer in mind, if you’re going to pull a Jimmy Hendrix and slam your guitar in the ground, drench it in lighter fluid, and then light it on fire these tips can only help you so much. Also, if you pull the Hendrix and you’re trying to reduce touring costs, wait until the last night of the tour to set it on fire. Just a suggestion.

7 Things Your Press Kit Should Contain

Logo- Every artist needs a logo that captures their band’s identity. Logos help the public to quickly remember you and they give your band “Brand Identity”. Brand Identity is a name, term design, or symbol which creates a distinct identity in the minds of the consumer. In music, I like to think of it as “band identity”. “Band Identity” is the unique image, style, and logo which people identify with your music. Having this logo and band identity is useful for creating viral campaigns and street team marketing, such as having fans put a sticker with your logo and website all over town.

Business Cards/Flyers- Every artist needs a business cards and flyers, which can promote upcoming events. If a press kit were Cold Stones, then business cards and flyers would be “Gotta Have its”.

Photography/Head Shots- Quality photography is needed for all press kits and anything related to media.

Trifold BrochureA brochure is a very professional way to represent yourself to booking agents, record labels, and venues.

Website/Social Media Pages- Every artists needs a website, giving the public a place to contact you, learn more about you, and what you do. In todays “hyper-connected world”, as writer of The World is Flat Thomas Friedman called it, it is also vital to have and maintain social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Demo/Videos- Obviously a high quality demo of your music is necessary for any consideration of your band. If your site has music, you do not necessarily need to send physical demos, although that is logically more convenient for the listener. Also, videos help get you ranked on search engines and let them see your live performance which is crucial to commercial success.

Presentation Folder- The ultimate way to put your press kit together- a folder that contains your brochure, business card, bio, head shots, and flyers.

Cause Marketing Helps To Sell More Music and Tickets

Cause marketing is when a business aligns with a charity for mutual benefit. The best example of this type of cause marketing in recent history is Product(RED). Product(RED) partners with manufacturers to sell products with half of the sales going to the Global Fund to fight AIDS  in Africa. To date, the “Red” campaign has raised over 170 million dollars for the Global fund . This concept encourages purchases with the added value of helping a good cause.

So how can this help Independent artists? The most simple way to use cause marketing for your music is by donating a small percentage of sales for certain shows and album releases to a charity. Also, the power of cause marketing is increased when a relevant or current problem is addressed.  For example, 11 days after the Japanese Earthquake the major labels decided to work on a benefit album for Japan. Max Hole, Universal Group International COO, describes that they rushed to get “clearance and rights and . . . everything done for a March 24th release. This album reached the number five spot on the Billboard 200 shortly after its release. Tadateru Konoe, Japanese Red Cross President, responded to the incredible music sales in saying, “The kind thoughts of the people making this album and buying this album will . . . give great encouragement to the people affected by the earthquake and tsunami. On behalf of the people affected by this disaster, I sincerely thank the artists and music companies…” This is a perfect example of how charity can create music sales.

Another example of cause marketing for music products is the recent partnership between GoodWorks and MusiCares. The companies printed special apparel designed by artists such as Jack Johnson, Slipknot, Sugarland, Tim McGraw, and Sean Kingston. The profits will aid the MusiCares Foundation, which helps musicians with financial needs.  This has been a successful campaign and you can still get the shirts at www.shopmusicares.com. Whether it is merch, music, or tickets, cause marketing can grow your sales.

For ideas, supporting music education is always relevant to music lovers and disaster relief charity is usually relevant to everyone.